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The duality of humanity has an ideology that there is hidden madness in everyone leading to the battle between good and evil. In Stevenson’s novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, double consciousness was an ongoing theme with the main characters. Stevenson illustrated the conflicting nature in mankind from morality. Jekyll represented goodness within while Hyde was the evil embodiment of Jekyll. The man who represented the good in society (Jekyll) realized he could only be outstanding by separating the evil within himself because they were seen as conflicting.
This soon eased Jekyll to find ways to segregate the evil within his ‘good’ self which lead to the creation of Hyde. Hyde created a disguise for Jekyll to avoid any feelings of remorse and the besmirch of his name. This experiment lead to Jekyll losing control of himself that then created the battle of good vs evil. Good can’t exist without evil—these traits are intertwined and define each other not separated.
Stevenson deciphered the differences between Jekyll and Hyde despite them being the same man. Jekyll was classified as a tall good-looking doctor with a wealthy fortune. The readers were presented with a description of Jekyll in chapter 3, “a large, well-made, smooth-faced man of fifty, with something of a slyish cast perhaps, but every mark of capacity and kindness” (Stevenson 9). He was viewed as the typical gentleman—the good persona of a human. Unlike Mr. Hyde who was this deformed, violent, disgusting human, who was the representation of evil.
Characters that had contact with him couldn’t help but describe him as this vicious monster by seeing the evil within soul. Mr. Enfield explained to Mr. Utterson that, “He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point” (Stevenson 7). He is smaller in stature and downright unattractive compared to Jekyll.
Hyde looked deformed which is why characters assumed he wasn’t fully human. Stevenson used these comparisons to show how a good version of a human could feel inferior to someone as ugly and evil as Hyde and lose their moral compass along the way. The behavior and actions between Jekyll and Hyde separated what they were perceived as—good or evil. Jekyll was a respectable doctor in one moment but Hyde in another moment to commit horrible behavior and actions. When he was his good persona (Jekyll) he was described as caring regarding his friends, honest, and reputable man. Jekyll even threw a dinner for his old lads who cherished and respected him. Unlike, his evil persona (Hyde) he didn’t care about friendship, money, respect—everything Jekyll knew. We were first made aware of Hyde’s intentions and behavior in the beginning of the novel, “the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see” (Stevenson 7).
Hyde was first viewed as a villainous character after this encounter since he trampled over the young girl without hesitation. His intentions were animalistic as he was this evil existence of Jekyll. There was a parallel universe regarding their personalities and actions; the things Jekyll didn’t see himself doing he did when he embodied Hyde. “I declare, at least, before God, no man morally sane could have been guilty of that crime upon so pitiful a provocation; and that I struck in no more reasonable spirit than that in which a sick child may break a plaything. But I had voluntarily stripped myself of all those balancing instincts by which even the worst of us continues to walk with some degree of steadiness among temptations; and in my case, to be tempted, however slightly, was to fall” (Stevenson 16). Hyde didn’t show any remorse when he beat Sir Danvers; he compared to a sick child breaking a plaything. Jekyll was a brilliant man but a misguided one; he believed he had no choice but to create Hyde to act out his evil actions. Hyde’s behavior and actions were harmful to the society and certain individuals.
The setting(s) in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, played an important role in the novel—it represented good vs bad. The story took place in central London during the the Victorian area in the nineteenth century to compare and contrast Jekyll and Hyde. Jekyll lived in a wealthy mansion and the characters who visited Jekyll’s home described it as “the pleasantest room in London” and “comfortable and warmed by a bright open fire” (Stevenson 8). This description placed the idea of Jekyll’s house as a warm and inviting environment. Whereas, Hyde lived in the foggy area of Soho, “The dismal quarter of Soho that we came to, where the fog swirled more densely than ever, and the street lamps were still lit, appeared to me like a district of some city in a nightmare” (Stevenson 10). The fog contrasted Hyde’s character and house location to Jekyll’s to make him seem dark and mysterious. Hyde was a character that embodied night and its darkness. He also avoided human interaction as much as possible; he was a secretive and private person which resembled his house and the setting. The character’s environments were based on their personalities and what they embodied.
In conclusion, Stevenson represented good and evil through Jekyll and Hyde by their behaviors and actions, physical appearance, and setting. This novel was a depiction of the good and evil characteristics that can be found in each human. Hyde was younger and smaller than Jekyll which made it seem like the bad was superior to the good, but this wasn’t the case. The dark side of a human can corrupt a society and cause harm on individuals whereas the good side can bring out positive aspects of people. The problem with Jekyll was he thought good and bad couldn’t coincide with each other but rather be seperated in a whole. His misguided thoughts lead him to internal damage and a battle within himself. It eventually lead Jekyll to lose his sense of morality little by little which helped Hyde to become stronger. Stevenson raised one important question which was whether good or evil was stronger but that answer isn’t black and white—it’s about a healthy balance. One thing Jekyll didn’t know was a healthy balance of both good and evil which set faith his destined doom from the beginning.
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